The stag night has long been shorthand for carnage, writes Katie Glass. You’ve seen The Hangover, right? The “last night of freedom”. There are urban myths of stags kidnapped, stripped naked, abandoned abroad, cavorting with strippers in Amsterdam. I heard of a dwarf hired for stag nights who turns up dressed as a baby and spends the night handcuffed to the groom, calling him “Daddy”. A friend told me about a stag night where the guys flew to Australia for just 24 hours, and another where the groom fell in love with a hooker and called the marriage off. One friend arranged a stag night in which a late-night convoy left London for the Lake District, picking up some girls in Soho on the way, who woke up in Wales asking: “Where’s the nearest Tube?”
Hen nights have taken on the classic tropes associated with stags; all-night drinking, cheeky snogging and being thrown out of clubs. One bouncer I quizzed at a hen-and-stag night spot told me men didn’t cause that much trouble, it’s the girls you have to watch out for: climbing on tables, taking over the dance floor, trying to cop off with stags. A friend who runs a B&B agrees: “I’d rather have stags than hens. At least men know when they’re misbehaving.”
Over the years, the stag-and-hen night has become more wildly elaborate and spending has rocketed. The average cost has increased by 50% in the past five years and the “prenuptial party” industry, which didn’t exist at all in the 1990s, is now worth £500m a year, according to a study by American Express. Another study, by Nationwide, has found that weddings cost the average guest £377, with most of those attending a stag or hen do spending an additional £157, and a quarter spending in excess of £200.
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